Vietnam will, for the first time, permit inns (a sort of mini-hotels) to sell or provide free condoms next January to prevent HIV/AIDS spread, local newspaper Vietnam News reported Thursday.
Under a law on HIV/AIDS slated to come into effect from Jan. 1, 2007, Vietnam will allow the sales and distribution of condoms, regarding it as a harm reduction method. Now, condom sales and distribution are not allowed in mini-hotels since many of them shelter prostitution.
Many local experts said besides prostitutes and sex buyers, many couples rent rooms at mini-hotels, so it is necessary to legalize condom sales and distribution in the facilities so that they can avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases.
Vietnam has annually seen roughly 39,000 new HIV infection cases in recent years, according to a report of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Now, there are nearly 300, 000 Vietnamese people living with HIV/AIDS, mostly among high-risk groups, including drug addicts, prostitutes and gays.
Vietnam plans to reduce the HIV/AIDS infection rate among its 83-million population to below 0.3 percent by 2010, and keep it unchanged after 2020.